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Ambassador Ayoob Erfani discusses gender issues at the OSCE

Vienna, 08.10.2013    Today, H.E. Ayoob Erfani had two meetings at the OSCE: He first met Her Excellency Ambassador Miroslava Beham, OSCE’s Senior Advisor on Gender Issues — a very productive meeting, which was followed by another fruitful encounter, with Mr. John Crownover of the Bosnia and Herzegovina branch of CARE International.

In his meeting with Ambassador Beham and her team, Mr. Ambassador Erfani discussed the vital role of the women of Afghanistan in the country’s struggle for peace, freedom and democracy, given the fact that more than 50% of the population of Afghanistan are women and that their full engagement is indispensable in order to secure the country’s future. Both agreed that the role of the OSCE in empowerment of women in Afghanistan should be further enhanced and that respective projects and programmes should be put on top of the agenda in the co-operation between Afghanistan and the OSCE, with a view to enabling the women of Afghanistan to play comprehensively active roles in all spheres of society, including politics, economy, health, culture and education.

Afghanistan, with the assistance of the international community, has achieved great progress over the past twelve years, in many areas, including gender issues. Ambassador Erfani also mentioned that women run for the post of President and Vice-President in next year’s elections. Nonetheless, remaining challenges need to be and will be addressed, in order to fully meet Afghanistan’s constitutional but also international obligations. The Government of Afghanistan remains committed to safeguard total equality of women and men in the country.

In the meeting with Mr. Crownover of CARE, Mr. Ambassador Erfani again stressed the imperative of gender equality and future ways and means of fully achieving this noble goal were discussed. At the heart of accomplishing this goal lies the gender education of Afghanistan’s kids and students.

Ambassador Ayoob Erfani made statement at the OSCE Security Committee meetIng

Vienna, 30.09.2013    At today’s meeting of the OSCE’s Security Committee, presentations on Border Security and Management in Tajikistan were made by Mr. Manuchehr Mahmudov, Head of Territorial and Border Settlement Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, and Mr. Suhrob Kaharov, Tajikistan Country Manager of the Border Management Programme in Central Asia (BOMCA), launched by the European Union in 2003.

Following the presentation by Tjikistan’s delegation, the representative of some countries, among other issues,expressed their concerns from the pssible security challenges from  Afghanistan after drow down of international security forces in 2014.

H.E. Ayoob Erfani welcomed the two speakers to the OSCE, thanked them for their excellent briefings, expressed Afghanistan’s appreciation of the friendly and brotherly relationship it enjoys with Tajikistan, and highlighted the “enhanced level of co-operation on bilateral, trilateral and quadrilateral levels, as well as regional initiatives such as the Istanbul Process and international mechanisms, which are essential not just for the well-being of our two nations but for the security, stability and economic development of our entire region and beyond”.

Ambassador Erfani continued by stressing the fact that “Afghanistan is now approaching  an important milestone: the process of Transition, which will be completed at the end 2014 and which will lead us into the Decade of Transformation (2015-2024) that will mark a new era of partnership between Afghanistan and the international community.” During the 12 years of partnership with its friends in the international community, Afghanistan managed to establish all necessary institutions, including its national security forces, to defend the country against both internal and external threats. Despite great achievements in most areas, Afghanistan is still facing certain challenges, including terrorism, drugs and other organized crimes. Ambassador Erfani noted that “it is the shared responsibility of all OSCE participating and partner States to address these transnational threats and common challenges.”, and he concluded his remarks by stating that “I would like to emphasize that as of 2014, Afghanistan shall not be seen as  source of a security threat to our region, which includes five OSCE participating states;  I would like to assure you all that ,Afghanistan is committed to be a source of good neighborly relations, stability, transit, investment , exchange and connectivity in our region”.

LINK:   http://www.osce.org/tajikistan                – END –

 

Ambassador Ayoob Erfani met Dr. Ernst Vitek, Director of Botany at Vienna’s Museum of Natural History

Vienna, 23.09.2013

H.E. Ayoob M. Erfani today visited Vienna’s Museum of Natural History (NHM) where he met Dr. Ernst Vitek, Director of Botany, who showed the Ambassador around the museum, in the spirit of the museum’s fine tradition of strong external cooperation. The Museum regularly conducts external collecting expeditions, hence its Department of Botany holds specimen from all over the world, with its herbarium possessing numerous historically important collections.

Remarkably, it also holds the world’s largest collection of Afghan plant materials. Dr. Vitek explained his work in the library of the museum, where countless boxes can be found, each containing a dried and preserved plant, which has been identified and labelled, including information about its locality. In the 1960s, a botanist established a herbarium for Kabul University and another one for NHM. Ever since, Asia has ranked among NHM’s geographical focuses: The Orient, The Caucasus and the region of Flora Iranica. Mr. Ambassador Erfani emphasized the importance of enabling Kabul University with access to that database so that both academics and students can utilize it, with a view to adding new information as they continue to study the ecology of the country. There are about 20,000 plants of the Kabul University Herbarium, with a total of 70,000 plants from around the globe – all available online with images, presenting a great potential resource for the Agriculture Faculty, the Botany Faculty and other related faculties. Dr. Vitek generously indicated the Museum’s readiness to assist with instructions, by stating that he and his team would either be willing to travel to Kabul University to run a workshop on how to use the database, or else host a team from Kabul in Vienna to become conversant with the system.
Mr. Ambassador Erfani thanked Dr. Vitek for his time and both pledged to remain in close contact.
Link: www.nhm-wien.ac.at
– END –

Ambassador Ayoob Erfani addresses IAEA General Conference

H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani, Permanent Rep to the UN and Resident Representative of Afghanistan to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is heading the delegation of Afghanistan to the IAEA’s 57th annual regular session of the General Conference, held in Vienna from 16 to 20 September, 2013.

In his address, Mr. Ambassador Erfani stressed the importance of the IAEA General Conference as both key international forum to reflect on today’s challenges, and venue for dialogue on secure and peaceful uses of nuclear applications and technologies, and he added that “Afghanistan, on the basis of its policy of multilateralism through strong regional and international cooperation, is ready to do its part for the success of the IAEA mandate”. Furthermore, Mr. Ambassador outlined future priorities of the Government of Afghanistan in its cooperation with the Agency, ranging from technical cooperation, in particular in the area of human health, capacity-building, and nuclear and isotopic applications in the fields of agriculture and water resource management.

Also, Mr. Ambassador emphasized that Afghanistan will remain a strong advocate of strengthened nuclear safety regimes: “Potential trans-boundary impacts of nuclear accidents remind us of the universal nature of the issue of nuclear safety.” At the same time, Afghanistan recognizes the danger of nuclear or similar radioactive materials being used in terrorist attacks and therefore supports all measures geared at reinforced global nuclear security. Ambassador Erfani also noted that robust safeguards and verification mechanisms are a prerequisite for nuclear disarmament and invites all concerned IAEA Member States to “take further steps towards nuclear disarmament”, while pledging Afghanistan’s continued commitment towards regional and international cooperation. In closing, Mr. Ambassador Erfani extended his appreciation to all those IAEA Member States which have generously contributed to the technical cooperation fund, thereby enabling implementation of vital projects in Afghanistan.

Links:
www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2013/gc57convenes.html
www.afghanistan-vienna.org                                                                                        -END-

Ambassador of Afghanistan H.E. Ayoob Erfani re-emphasizes his country´s continued commitment to strongly cooperate with the OSCE for the stability and prosperity of the region

Press Release

Vienna, 11 September 2013: H.E. Jean Asselborn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg briefed the OSCE’s Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) at the opening session of Luxembourg’s chairmanship of the FSC about the agenda for the upcoming three months, among them the holding of two security dialogue sessions where the transition and the post-2014 situation in Afghanistan will be high on the agenda.

Mr. Asselborn emphasized the importance of Afghanistan in OSCE´s engagement for the security and stability in the region.

H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani thanked Mr. Jean Asselborn for his encouraging commitment to keep Afghanistan prominently on the FSC working agenda during the upcoming months and stated:

“Afghanistan is committed to the goals of the OSCE and will make every effort for a safe, stable and prosperous region”

He added that “The regional cooperation has become a central element of the foreign policy of Afghanistan, which remains crucial for our success during the Transition to be followed by the decade of Transformation (2015-2024). H.E. Ambassador Erfani praised “the ongoing engagements of the OSCE to address the common challenges and improve the stability of our region”, and stated that “Afghanistan is committed to do its part  for the stability and prosperity of the region in strong cooperation with the OSCE.”

Statement by Ambassador Erfani, at the OSCE PC meeting, in the presence of the SG of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Mr. Chairman ,

 

Dear Colleagues

My delegation is delighted to join the previous speakers and warmly welcome HE SG of the SCO Mr. Dimitry Mezentsev and thank him for his comprehensive and informative presentation. I listened to SC’s  remarks on Afghanistan and I would like to make the following brief comments.

 

Afghanistan is an observer to the SCO and highly values its relationship with the SCO and the role of SCO to address the serious challenges that our region is facing today.

Dear colleagues,

When the SCO was established back in 2001, Afghanistan was experiencing the darkest days of its history.

After 12 years since the collapse of the Taliban, Afghanistan, actively supported by our partners in the international community, turned an important page in its history and started transitioning to a peaceful, stable and self–reliant society.

Today we are completing out transition. All the basic state institutions in Afghanistan which had been destroyed in the long years of war have been rebuilt, and our economy is steadily moving forward towards integration with the economies of the region and the world. Furthermore Afghanistan is making tremendous efforts to become the connecting point of regional integration and transit investment for the countries in the region and beyond.

 

We are particularly proud of our security forces who have already taken over independent control of security in 90% of Afghanistan from the international security assistance force (ISAF) as part of the transition process. This has been a successful process so far and we are confident that by 2014, Afghan forces will be fully and effectively in charge of defending Afghanistan and securing the lives of our people.

As our security forces continue to grow in strength and confidence we look forward to continuing our partnership and cooperation in the security sector with the countries and organizations that have supported us over the years as well as our regional friends and partners among them the SCO.

No partnership that we forge will be a source of threat to our neighbors or any other country.

Transition, of course, implies more than security, hence the government of Afghanistan with the support of its partners is preparing itself for a comprehensive security, political and economic Transition, including the ongoing peace process and upcoming presidential election in 2014.

Dear colleagues,

 

The vision we have for Afghanistan is not only for a peaceful and prosperous country for the Afghans, but also to have friendly, constructive and dependable partners for the region, because without the region’s goodwill, support and contributions, Afghanistan would not have been able to make the transition we are making today . We know that while our friends will come from all corners of the world, our true security and prosperity fundamentally depend on the region that surrounds us.

We believe  that a stable and prosperous Afghanistan will be an important contributing  factor to  security and greater economic interaction across the whole region, while Afghanistan’s challenges will affect the surrounding region more than any other.

We know that the SCO today is greatly concerned by the threats they see as emanating from Afghanistan, following the withdrawal of international forces from the country, including the narcotics trade. The situation is intolerable for us too. We must not look the root of drug problem in Afghanistan farms , where Afghan farmers benefits less than 5% from the money coming out of the drug trade. This menace, including the trafficking of procuresses  to Afghanistan and high demands in the international markets and the  global mafia that sustains it, threatens the fabric of our society, including our ability to develop our legal economy in tandem with the region and the world. The threat of terrorism, which is not based in villages and towns  of Afghanistan , but emanates from sanctuaries beyond our borders, is another common challenge Terrorism is not based in the villages and towns of Afghanistan.

These are our common challenges, with regional and global dimensions and  we  all have a common responsibility to address them.

To be able to address these challenges effectively, the need for a sincere result-oriented cooperation at the regional level is more acute than ever before. We want the region to see us not as a source of trouble but as a partner in the common effort for a stable region.

The role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in mobilizing and coordinating common regional efforts, in particular with regard to the fight against the common enemies of terrorism and narcotics, remains essential and is commendable. We also urge the SCO to focus on the lethal smugglings in the region, which feeds the violence in Afghanistan and other countries in the region.

Afghanistan is a victim of global threats and challenges of drugs and terrorism , and it need a comprehensive approach and practical action undertaken by all under the principle of shared responsibility.

We assure you Mr SG that, Afghanistan as an observer to the SCO is committed to do its part at the national, regional and international levels in fighting against our challenges and contribute to a stable and prosperous region. I wish you and your team every success in the efforts undertaken to address our common challenges and thank you  for your commitment for the stability of our region.

 

Thank you

Presentation by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani To the annual session of field experts from UNODC’s Terrorism Prevention Branch

Dear colleagues, dear participant ladies and gentleman, good morning.

It is a pleasure for me to participate in today’s annual session of field experts from UNOD’s terrorism prevention branch, to share with you our experiences from Afghanistan in dealing with counter-terrorism and the lessons we have drawn from this. Today, I will share with you the experiences drawn from Afghanistan, which is the prime victim of and an active partner against international terrorism as a global challenge. I will also talk about our successes, achievements, ongoing progress, remaining challenges and I will be happy to have an interactive discussion with you on this subject.

To begin with, I would like to express my gratitude to UNODC for the assistance it has given Afghanistan, and I appreciate the continued efforts and partnership of UNODC with Afghanistan in this field.

Terrorism and extremism did not exist in Afghanistan two decades ago, however during the period of war and inner turmoil in the country, terrorist organizations and radical elements moved to the country and Afghanistan, which was once a stable and peaceful nation, became a prime target and victim of terrorism, which had detrimental consequences for the country’s political and security institutions, society and economy.

Each and every day, Afghan men, women and children wake up with the fear that another brutal act of terror will occur, killing or maiming another family member or fellow citizen. Through suicide and roadside bombings, attacks on our clinics and schools, markets places and mosques, terror and violence continue to deprive the Afghan people from their rights for a peaceful life.

Dear participants ,

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 Afghanistan has come a long way, from being a lawless country, an epicenter of international terrorism and a source of regional instability. Afghanistan has begun re-building its national institutions, has established the foundations of democratic society and moved to a market economy, and has adopted a constitution that protects the rights of all its citizens, especially those of women and children.

These achievements were made through the unprecedented commitment of the international community, with the central coordinating role of the United Nations. Yet, many challenges remain – the greatest being to fight terrorism and to establish lasting peace across the whole country, and to free Afghans from decades of violence and conflict.

Afghanistan is firmly committed to defeating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and has, in this regard, spared no effort at the national, regional and international levels. Over the past 12 years since the fall of Taliban, together with our international partners, we have significantly weakened the overall capabilities of terrorist networks. As a result of our counter-terrorism efforts, a considerable number of terrorists have been curtailed in their brutal efforts, and captured, while others are being pursued.  Our state institutions have thwarted a significant number of terrorist plots across the country. Consistent with the process of Transition, the Afghan national army and police today are assuming the primary role in all security activities across 90% of Afghanistan, including counter-terrorism operations.

Our counter-terrorism policies are a key part of our national security strategy. To that effect, we have further strengthened our counter-terrorism legal framework. Afghanistan is party to all international conventions, protocols and instruments concerning terrorism, and we have adopted a multitude of national laws to combat terrorism and other forms of organized crime.  These include the Law on Combating the Financing of Terrorism; the Law on Combating Terrorist Offences; and the Law on Combating Money Laundering.

Afghanistan continues close collaboration with a wide range of relevant actors, comprising the counter-terrorism implementation task force. We encourage States which are using terrorism as a foreign policy instrument to desist from doing so and join the international community to fight this challenge. We would like the UNODC to further enhance its efforts in addressing terrorism.

We are working closely with the three counter-terrorism committees of the Security Council: the 1373, Committee’ the 1267 Committee and the 1540 Committee. In this regard, we have submitted relevant national reports on implementation, the most recent of which was our 2nd report to the 1540 Committee.

At the regional level, we are intensifying cooperation and dialogue with regional partners through bilateral, trilateral and multilateral regional processes to effectively deal with the problems of terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations.  Most recently, during the “Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Almaty” Afghanistan and its regional partners reaffirmed their commitment to ensure peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and our region by implementing a broad set of confidence-building measures (CBM’s), which include counter-terrorism cooperation

A successful counter-terrorism strategy needs a comprehensive approach, including economic, security and political aspects. Such an approach requires sincere cooperation among all States, in particular in the region surrounding Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is now in an absolutely crucial phase. The process of transitioning security responsibilities to Afghan National Security Forces is reaching its final stages. As I speak, the security for over 90 percent of the Afghan population is led by Afghan Security Forces.  Afghanistan’s national security forces amount to 350,000 soldiers, and they will do their best to defend Afghanistan against any internal and external threats. From our perspective, transition is the beginning of a new era of equitable partnership between a sovereign Afghanistan and its partners in the international community during the decade of transformation and beyond.

Alongside this security transition, the peace and reconciliation process is a national priority, based on the conviction that dialogue is the most practical means for ending the conflict that plagues our country. The government of Afghanistan is strongly committed to an Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process. This includes all Afghans who are ready to renounce violence, denounce terrorism, accept the constitution, and respect human rights, especially those of women and children. “Without the active participation of Afghan women, which constitute more than 50% of Afghanistan’s population, there will not be a stable, just and prosperous Afghanistan”.

The upcoming 2014 presidential elections will be a milestone in Afghanistan’s democratization process, and the government is doing its upmost to guarantee a free and fair election, and ensure a successful transition to a decade of transformation, which is against the will of terrorist elements in our region.

Dear Participants,

We all must keep in our minds that Afghanistan as a traditional moderate society, that strongly stands against all forms of terrorism and extremism, urgently needs a peaceful life and the international community must remain committed in their support for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Terrorist networks and ideological centers are not present in Afghan towns and villages, they operate primarily from their centers and sanctuaries based outside Afghanistan.

As a country that has been at the forefront in the fight against terrorism, Afghanistan has suffered immensely in terms of human and material loss. A significantly high number of Afghans, including civilians, tribal and religious figures, law-enforcement personnel and government officials have lost their lives as a result of terrorism.   Nevertheless, such attacks will not deter our commitment to achieving lasting peace and security.  We are firmly committed to making sure that the sacrifices made along the way will not go in vain. We, in Afghanistan, will remain as resolute as ever in our partnership with the international community to fight against terrorism, and secure a better life for our future generation.

Thank you!

The International Conference on Nuclear Security “Enhancing Global Efforts”

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ayoob Erfani, Permanent Representative to the IAEA and Head of the Delegation of Afghanistan, at the IAEA’s International Conference on Nuclear Security: Enhancing Global Efforts.

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Your Excellency Dr. János Martonyi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary,

H.E. Yukiya Amano, Director General of IAEA,

Excellencies and Ministers,

Dear colleagues,

At the outset I would like to congratulate you Mr. President, for assuming the chairmanship of this Ministerial Conference and assure you of my delegation’s full support for a successful outcome of this session.

I wish to extend my appreciation to the IAEA Director General H.E. Yukiya Amano and his team for organizing this first International Conference for enhancing global efforts on Nuclear Security.

Furthermore, let me commend the hard work of our two dear colleagues and their team for coordinating the preparatory process of this Conference, Ambassador Balázs Csuday of Hungary and Ambassador Laércio Antonio Vinhas of the Federative Republic of Brazil.

Mr. President,

After decade of International Community’s joint efforts to combat terrorism, Afghanistan, as a frontline fighter against, and prime victim of this menace, believes that terrorism remains a challenge and that possible terrorist activities utilizing nuclear and radiological technologies constitute a major threat and causes growing concern.  The terrorist elements will not stop their crimes against humanity, including the use of weapon of mass destruction, if they were to acquire these weapons.

Afghanistan attaches particular importance to a multilateral approach, with the central supporting and facilitating role of the IAEA toward all matters concerning nuclear security, with a view to reinforcing security of nuclear sites around the globe and to invigorating national security regimes in order to prevent illicit acquisition of nuclear and other radioactive material.  The Government of Afghanistan welcomes the progress that has been made in recent years in this regard, including the implementation of international instruments.  Nonetheless, we are still facing a number of tremendous challenges that urgently need to be addressed, including physical protection of facilities, material, and means of transportation.

Therefore, we consider this first ministerial segment, in the wake of Washington and Seoul Summits and on the eve of next year’s summit in The Hague, as a very timely initiative to build on the progress achieved, study the remaining challenges, and make specific recommendations to enhance the international cooperation on nuclear safety and security.  These efforts remain vital for the peace, security and stability of all nations.

Afghanistan expects that the Nuclear Security Plan for 2014 to 2017 will comprise a broad spectrum of robust norms and practices to secure nuclear materials.  The IAEA shall play a major role in setting security standards and developing an international framework for nuclear security.  We would also like to encourage the allocation of larger resources for the Agency’s Nuclear Security Fund and increased coordination between the IAEA and the United Nations and Interpol’s Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit, while avoiding overlap and duplication.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan has taken specific measures at the national, regional and international levels to be an active part of International Community against terrorism, including the IAEA’s activities on the areas of nuclear security framework.

Afghanistan has joined all regional and international protocols, conventions and instruments against intentional terrorism, implementing relevant UNSC resolutions in this regard as well as the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.

The Government of Afghanistan calls upon all countries, and specifically those in our region, to join and implement all anti-terrorism international instruments, to maintain the most effective, meticulous security of all nuclear material under their control.  All disposable measures must be taken to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear and radiological weapons.  We recognize the ongoing work of the IAEA to assist all efforts to implement national nuclear security regimes and encourage all States to make use of such assistance offered.

Afghanistan also wishes to emphasize the importance of aligning nuclear security and safety measures, in order to establish a holistic approach, in due consideration of the growing threat of cyber-attacks, towards protection of human health and the environment.

Each State has the responsibility to ensure that an effective national nuclear security regime is in place, and that rapid and effective incident response is guaranteed. Operators and response forces must make sure that their mechanisms work as intended.  In order to achieve sustained momentum to reinforce nuclear security, we must create a clear and consistent framework of structured agreements, mechanisms, guidelines and best practices. Afghanistan supports all activities aimed at the promotion of confidence among IAEA Member States.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan has not developed a nuclear power industry, yet derives considerable benefits from its IAEA membership. In recent years, officials from the Afghan Atomic Energy High Commission (AAEHC) and other government bodies including the Ministries of Agriculture, Public Health, Water and Energy, Mines as well as the National Environmental Protection Authority (NEPA) and the Academy of Sciences, participated in consultation and technical meetings hosted by the Agency.

Afghanistan, from its daily experience as a Landlocked, Least Developed Country and War Stricken country, remains confident that with enhanced technical assistance provided by the IAEA, we shall be able to build our necessary capacity and attain full implementation of our prioritized technical cooperation programmes.  We must ensure that nuclear and radiological technologies both satisfy our needs and meet the highest safety and security standards.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan has adopted national laws, established national institutions, created law informant agencies/units and still needs technology and technical assistance to build its capacities in the field of nuclear security infrastructure. The IAEA trains personnel from our regulatory authority, assists with development and implementation of revised legislation, regulations and guidelines, accession to international legal instruments, adoption of codes of good practice, a system of authorization, review and assessment, as well as inspection for facilities and activities using ionizing radiation. Afghanistan strongly believes that effective nuclear security regimes also require, enhanced regional and international cooperation, including sharing of information and know-how and technology transfer.

In conclusion Mr. President, I would like to reiterate Afghanistan’s strong commitment to be an active part of international community’s joint efforts in the field of nuclear safety and security for the cause of a more peaceful and stable world.

Thank you.

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